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Irene Padasas
Community  Health and Nutrition Advisor

4437-B S. Laspina St.
Tulare, CA 93274
Office: (559) 684-3318


Karina Macias
Program Manager

550 E. Shaw Ave. Suite 210-B
Fresno, CA 93710
Office: (559) 241-7618


Nancy R. Zumkeller
Program Supervisor

550 E. Shaw Ave. Suite 210-B
Fresno, CA 93710
Office: (559) 241-7533


Elizabeth Lopez
Program Supervisor

550 E. Shaw Ave. Suite 210-B
Fresno, CA 93710
Office: (559) 241-7532

Success Stories


Central Unified School District Students Garden Virtually During COVID-19

During outreach recruitment efforts  to Central Unified School District, we found many challenges in securing participation from extenders school day hours for virtual nutrition education time. Many extenders were overwhelmed with the move to virtual teaching and found it difficult to share any time during the  shortened school day to incorporate nutrition education. A connection was made with the GATE (Gifted And Talented Education ) after school program  teacher who serves 5th grade students after school hours to enrich their school day. Mrs. Erika Boyd had 13 5th grade students from 5 elementary schools throughout the district. This group of student's goal was to create a community enriching project. They wanted to each create a garden at their respective school sites. The pandemic restrictions did not allow for this opportunity since students were entirely being taught through distance learning.  Through consultation with Mrs. Boyd and the needs and parameters of the students' community project, it was determined that each student creating a home garden and participating in TWIG's lessons each week would be a perfect alternative.

At home garden education kits.
At home garden education kits.
Central Unified's GATE program students were not able to complete their community outreach project due to pandemic shelter in place restrictions. Their teacher Mrs. Boyd had secured a grant for gardening supplies of $1,000.00 per school site but was unsure of how to spend this resourcefully to engage the students in gardening.  CFHL, UCCE educator Robert Tapia met with Mrs. Boyd and developed a structure and timeline for at home garden kits along with virtual TWIG's lessons. This direct education of TWIG's taught the students all about gardening as well as how to implement their at home garden kits that Robert consulted Mrs. Boyd on what to purchase and when.

This intervention influenced the 13 students and their families. While the students learned about gardening and planted their gardens at home, many shared that their families became involved in the process and helped plant, maintain and harvest from the garden. Some students shared what they learned in a video that Mrs. Boyd recorded and shared with Robert and thanking him for his work with them. There were also photos shared through the process of successes, challenges faced and lessons learned.

Student Quotes:

"...I am writing currently to tell you how grateful I am that you helped me learn how to make a perfect garden! Because we did the greenhouse, I have tons of plants in my backyard. With your help, I and my mom were able to make a lot of food from my family, and we use it wisely. I appreciate your willingness to give assistance to help people grow plants and how to keep them protected, Thank you." -Student

"...I really liked the zip lock bag greenhouse method for growing. Thank you for your tips and tricks. I also enjoyed the nearpod lessons. With your help I found new ways to grow things. Although it did not work because I watered it too much, it was very great." -Student  

CalFresh Healthy Living, UCCE Madera Partners with UCCE Madera County Master Gardeners for a Virtual Spring Garden Workshop

During the Spring of 2021, CalFresh Healthy Living, University of California Cooperative Extension (CFHL, UCCE) Madera County partnered with Madera Unified School District (MUSD) Parent Resource Center (PRC) to provide a series of virtual adult education EHBA workshops. Parent feedback following these classes was so positive that the PRC requested additional parent education support and identified gardening as a topic of interest. With previous success partnering internally with the UCCE Madera Master Gardener program for youth gardening, the CFHL, UCCE Madera Manager, Karina Macias reached out to the Madera Master Gardener Coordinator Denise Cuendett to discuss the possibility of collaborating on a virtual gardening workshop.

Parent graduate with University of California certificate of completion and garden kit.
Parent graduate with University of California certificate of completion and garden kit.
In a collaborative effort, the Madera County Master Gardner Coordinator, Denise Cuendett Master Gardener John Duran and CFHL, UCCE Madera Educator, Elizabeth Lopez and Manager, Karina Macias met over a series of zoom calls to plan and organize the workshop presentation using CFHL, UC approved curricula, Fresh from the Garden. Additionally, the group coordinated to put together a garden kit that supported the content taught in the workshop and also considered seasonal, easy to grow and maintain foods. Workshop participants were provided with a garden kit that contained: soil, pot, seeds, a tomato plant, and a garden themed coloring page for their children, that they could pick up from the PRC.

The MUSD PRC promoted the workshop to parents using their district communications system, Parent Square and also managed the registration. The Spring Garden Workshop took place on April 21, 2021 from 6pm to 7pm, delivered by John Duran and Elizabeth Lopez over zoom in Spanish, with an English translator and was well attended by 30 parents. Master Gardener, John Duran began the presentation using the Fresh From the Garden, curriculum and CFHL, UCCE Educator, Elizabeth Lopez provided nutrition education and a recipe. The workshop concluded with Master Gardener John Duran with a question and answer session with parents. Based on the parent feedback and interaction this workshop was well received and parents were thankful for the opportunity to get first-hand gardening advice and trouble-shoot on their own gardens with an expert.

Shortly after the workshop, the MUSD PRC provided CFHL, UCCE Madera with gathered feedback and requested another workshop for the next school year.